by Carl Strang
Some observations are just plain cool. A ScienceDaily article reported on a study in Australia that may or may not be relevant to our birds, but certainly should have me listening for inter-species patterns in their singing from now on. Here’s the reference: E. I. Greig, S. Pruett-Jones. 2010. Danger may enhance communication: predator calls alert females to male displays. Behavioral Ecology 21: 1360. The abstract can be accessed here: 10.1093/beheco/arq155.
Grieg and Pruett-Jones conducted experiments showing that splendid fairy-wren males attach a particular courtship song to that of a predator (butcherbird), so that it resembles a duet between the species.
The study showed that this made it more likely that a female fairy-wren would notice the song, as the predator’s song raised her alertness.